Collin County's Health Care Services folks are advising
parents not to over-react should the approaching head lice season make a
stop in their childrenís hair.
The public perception is that head lice are associated with
poor hygiene, says Janet Glowicz, Collin County epidemiologist: ďThat's just not
the case. Head lice actually prefer the clean hair of social people."
Head lice are spread by direct contact with infested
people or materials. They donít jump or hop, and parents often consider
schools to be the prime locales for transmission of the parasites. But
other public places are just as popular with head lice, including movie
theaters and slumber parties.
"Parents shouldn't panic," said Dr. Mike Merchant, entomologist for
Texas Cooperative Extension. "Many children become infested with head lice at some point
during their school years. Whenever kids come together in a classroom setting, especially
after the carefree months of summer, head lice are going to happen."
In fact, having head lice is as common as having a cold.
However, a common cold does not carry the social stigma or cause the emotional
reaction that comes with head lice. Health officials say the parasites donít
have to be good cause to disrupt school or wreck childhood friendships.
The county's health care staff offers the following information and advice on the matter:
- Parents should periodically check their child's hair for nits.
- School districts may exclude children with head lice from attendance until
one treatment has been administered.
- One treatment is not likely to remove all nits, so parents should expect
that they will need to check the child's hair nightly for one to two weeks
until all nits have been removed.
- A child with nits that have been treated may be allowed to
return to school depending on the school's policy regarding lice.
- Blaming the school or other parents is not an effective method of
stopping the spread of head lice and can be very harmful to children
who may feel stigmatized.
For more online information on this parasitic disease,
For individual school policies on head lice infestations, look for information
from the school nurse or contact the school district.